Introduction to the 2030 Agenda

This training aims to give you an introduction to Agenda 2030, a global agenda for addressing the world most pressing challenges and driving change toward a sustainable society. The Global Goals of the 2030 Agenda offers an unprecedented opportunity for individuals and local and regional governments (LRGs) to contribute to global sustainability. Localizing the global goals relates both to (i) how individuals can support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda through bottom-up action and (ii) to how the global goals can provide a framework for local development.

The training consists of four sections and takes 20-30 minutes to complete.

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1/4 - Learn about the global goals

What is the 2030 Agenda?

In September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the Resolution 70/1 “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

The Agenda asserts that by 2030, the countries of the world are committed to eradicating poverty and hunger, fighting inequalities and building peaceful, equitable and inclusive societies. Other commitments include realising human rights, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls; and ensuring that the planet and its natural resources remain protected in the long term. The 2030 Agenda delegation has described the agenda as “the global community’s current definition of what sustainable development means”. The 2030 Agenda is also sometimes referred to as the Sustainable Development Goals.



The political declaration is based on numerous declarations and resolutions agreed on and signed by United Nations Member States.

The most important of these include the Beijing Platform for Action / Fourth World Conference on Women’s Rights (1995), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).


The 2030 Agenda includes 17 goals and 169 targets. Together, they balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social, and environmental. A key element of the Agenda is that it will be implemented in partnerships between governments, the private sector, civil society, and the UN system. Implementation is also to be done in solidarity with those who live in poverty and vulnerability across the globe. No one will be left behind.


Funding is crucial for our success in realizing the 2030 Agenda. Individual countries have the primary responsibility towards their citizens to implement the 2030 Agenda. The international community has a particular and shared responsibility for countries facing the greatest challenges and those with the weakest institutions.


How can we know a countries progress towards implementing the 2030 Agenda? - The UN has developed a global indicator framework, and each country regularly reports on developments at the international, national and local level to the UN. In addition to the formal reporting, other regular follow-ups are also done at the local level. These consist of compilations, comparisons and ranking lists of the efforts by municipalities and regions.

Each country has been tasked with coordinating the statistical follow-up on how they will reach the 17 goals and 169 targets in the 2030 Agenda. These efforts are carried out in close cooperation with various other governmental and local authorities and with support from other actors, such as civil society. The progress is tracked by global indicators decided by the UN. National indicators should be tracked and produced by the statistics authority, in collaboration with a number of other authorities, in each country. At the global level, the goals are tracked by more than 230 indicators.

Work to improve follow-up of the 2030 Agenda at the global and national level is ongoing. This means that both indicators and data sources are continuously refined and developed.

These are the 17 global goals

Which of the 17 goals makes your heart beat a little faster? What goals are relevant to your agency?

Click on the goals to learn more

Goal 1

End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Goal 2

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Goal 3

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Goal 4

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Goal 5

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Goal 6

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Goal 7

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Goal 8

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Goal 9

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.

Goal 10

Reduce inequality within and among countries.

Goal 11

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Goal 12

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Goal 13

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Goal 14

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Goal 15

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Goal 16

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Goal 17

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.


The Global Goals for Sustainable Development are integrated and indivisible, which means that no goal can be achieved in isolation. In fact, achieving one goal makes it easier to achieve others. For example, if more people have access to clean water and sanitation (Goal 6), better conditions are created for human health (Goal 3). One concrete outcome is that when the health of children improves, more children can attend school.

The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have clearly shown how all aspects of sustainability are linked, as well as the importance of global collaboration. In short, the direction pointed out by the 2030 Agenda is more important than ever.

We need a holistic approach and cross-sectoral coordination to achieve our goals. Therefore, we cannot work on the 2030 Agenda in isolation or as an individual project. Instead, we must integrate the Agenda into various projects and activities.



Do we really need the 2030 Agenda? Perhaps you think that your country is already doing enough when it comes to sustainability? Perhaps you feel the challenges you and your country face are too far behind?

Whatever situation you and your country are in, there are global challenges that need your help and cooperation to solve. Achieving the goals in the 2030 Agenda means that we are leading a major global transformation and all need to work together to make it a reality. To meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda, we have less than ten years to create a sustainable society. This is the “decade of action”.

True OR False?

Respond to the statements below to unlock the next section.

The global homicide rate has declined slowly

2010 were the homicide rate 5,9 per 100 000 population, which declined to 5,8 per 100 000 population

Almost 75 percent of 113 countries were on track to achieve their national target to integrate biodiversity into national planning

Only a third of 113 countries were on track to achieve their national target to integrate biodiversity into national planning

2019 was the second warmest year on record

Global temperatures are projected to rise by up to 3.2°C by 2100

Investments in climate activities are now higher than investments in fossil fuels

The investments in fossil fuels are still higher than the investments in climate activities.

2/4 - The 2030 Agenda means change

The clock is ticking

The entire world is working hard towards achieving these goals, but we need accelerated action if we are going to achieve them by 2030.

Unequally distributed issues

Many problems in society affect people unequally. Here are some examples.

  • Income inequality among countries has declined in relative terms but is still higher than inequality within most countries.
  • Income inequality is usually larger in cities than in rural areas
  • Despite progress, billions still lack water and sanitation services
  • Ethnic minorities often remain disadvantaged even in countries where special efforts are made to promote their inclusion.
  • Children are regularly exposed to multiple forms of violence
  • The world continues to use natural resources unsustainably
  • Rising temperatures have adversely affected economic growth in countries located in the tropics, which tend to be poorer than countries located in more temperate climate zones. They have made the world’s poorest countries poorer.
  • Despite improvements, full gender equality remains unreached
  • Over 200 million children will be out of school in 2030
  • The world is far from the goal of equal opportunity for all: circumstances beyond an individual’s control, such as gender, race, ethnicity, migrant status and, for children, the socioeconomic status of their parents, continue to affect one’s chances of succeeding in life.
  • Young workers are twice as likely to be living in extreme poverty as adult workers

United Nations. 2020. World social report 2020 inequality in a rapidly changing world. United Nations publication: ST/ESA/372.

United Nations. 2020. SDG Goal.


What can statistics say about society and how we progess towards implementing the 2030 Agenda? Statistics are often used as a basis for making decisions, and should be objective and impartial from political manipulation. Their main task is to describe society as it exists. Statistics provide a picture of society in facts and figures. They are important for strengthening and driving implementation of Agenda 2030 as they provide the baseline for monitoring and taking action. For instance, they can show:

  • the existance of inequalities, such as income and gender
  • how many schools are needed in a municipality
  • the levels of green house gas emissions from industries
  • situational analysis
  • justice-based resource allocation
  • levels of unemployment

Breaking down and reporting statistics on regional and municipal level offers opportunities for regions and municipalities to incorporate Agenda 2030 into their own sustainability work in a clear way. Even keeping personal statistics can help individuals monitor their progress their journey towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

The number of countries in the world that drafted and adopted the 2030 Agenda is 193.
Of all the health and social workers, 70% are women
The number of people that still lack electricity
Every day, 100 civilians are killed in armed conflicts.

The world's greatest challenges

Change is still not happening at the speed or scale required and we are still facing global challenges for sustainable development. The main challenges identified include eliminating extreme poverty, promoting sustainable consumption and production, and managing the planet’s natural resource base for the benefit of all.

Achieving sustainable development will require global actions to deliver on the legitimate aspiration towards further economic, social and environmetal progress. Everyone and all parts of society - organizations, business, the public sector, researchers and individuals - must participate actively for us to succeed.

The government has overall responsibility

While the National Government is ultimately responsible for each county’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda, local and regional government agencies also play an important role.

It is up to local and regional government agencies to implement the Agenda in concrete terms. In fact, one could say that you, as a citizen, a voter, or as a government employee, are already working directly with the 2030 Agenda. In fact, some of the national goals, decided by individual governments, are even more ambitious than the Global Goals.

We have a shared responsibility

The 2030 Agenda emphasizes that to achieve the goals, it is necessary that all social actors are involved and take a shared responsibility. The Agenda presupposes that attitudes and behaviors change, at both the individual and society level. Creating and developing a means of dialogue is needed for the Agenda to be implemented

3/4 - Your role

You play an important role

You are needed for your country to succeed in its commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda. Your skills, experience, contact network and commitment are crucial both now and for future generations.

Change takes time. Everyone must work towards the same goal to speed up the rate of change. You have great potential to contribute to new and innovative processes and paths to achieve the goals in the 2030 Agenda.


What is needed to implement the 2030 Agenda? The deciding factor for success is the involvement and cooperation of all parts of society. This can be illustrated by eight building blocks that represent essential structures, processes and working methods. All the building blocks are connected, and all are equally important. As an individual, you can make a difference by contributing to any of the building blocks.



You may be wondering whether you, as an individual citizen, can really make a difference in the work on the 2030 Agenda. The answer is unequivocally YES, you can! Here are a few tips on what you can do in your workplace.


  • Read about the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Learn about work on the 2030 Agenda in your own workplace
  • Find out how your responsibilities relate to the 2030 Agenda


  • Together with your manager, draw up an individual action plan based on your agency’s needs and conditions
  • Find an issue you are passionate about and initiate a dialogue about it at home, in your office, in your community, with your local leaders
  • Use workplace meetings to guide the work of the unit, department or agency towards any of the goals in the 2030 Agenda
  • Read the goals and strategy documents for your agency and see how they align with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Is there anything that needs to be adjusted or clarified?
  • Identify the Sustainable Development Goals your unit or agency is working on
  • Explore networks and collaborations
  • Investigate which collaborative projects and opportunities for development are relevant to the 2030 Agenda


  • How can we apply the 2030 Agenda in our activities?
  • Which of the goals are most relevant to us and the field we work in?
  • How can our agency develop existing collaborations to contribute to the 2030 Agenda?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of starting collaborations with other authorities?
  • Are there any networks we can connect to at the local or national level?
  • Can you share examples of successful collaboration? How can we learn from these?
  • Can you share some good examples of working on the 2030 Agenda? Please describe
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the scope and design of the 2030 Agenda?
  • What obstacles can pose a challenge to work on the 2030 Agenda? How can we address them?


How well we manage to implement the 2030 Agenda and achieve the Global Goals largely depends on how well various social partners cooperate. To achieve the goals effectively, government agencies, civil society, businesses, and other stakeholders must coordinate their efforts.

Prerequisites for successful collaboration:

  • Awareness that collaboration is crucial but not the sole solution to all problems
  • An understanding of the partner’s perspective
  • Adequate resources
  • Awareness that differences of opinion may arise - this is an inevitable part of cooperation
  • Awareness that regulations can sometimes be an obstacle, perhaps because they are outdated and need updating.


There are already established networks and forums for achieving the SDGs in all countries. Look into what networks exist in yours. Additionally, there are several international networks and forums to help your local authorities meet the Global Goals. Here are a few of them.

UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

The SDG Academy is SDSN's flagship education initiative. They bring together the world’s experts to create and deliver educational content on critical issues for the future of people and planet, including health, education, climate change, agriculture and food systems, and sustainable investment.

Local 2030

Localizing the SDGs is a network and platform that supports the on-the-ground delivery of the SDGs, with a focus on those furthest behind. It is a convergence point between local and regional governments and their associations, national governments, businesses, community-based organizations and other local actors, and the United Nations system.

Global taskforce

The Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments is a coordination and consultation mechanism that brings together the major international networks of local governments to undertake joint advocacy work relating to global policy processes.

UCLG network

UCLG, as a global network of cities and local, regional, and metropolitan governments and their associations, is committed to representing, defending, and amplifying the voices of local and regional governments to leave no-one and no place behind.


The Regional Forum on Sustainable Development follows up on and reviews the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the UNECE region.

United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

The HLPF is the main United Nations platform on sustainable development and it has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level.


We hope that you now have a better understanding of the 2030 Agenda, and how important you and your colleagues are for its implementation. You may even have ideas on how you can work towards the goals of the Agenda in your own role. Don’t underestimate your ability to make a difference! Trust in the power of community. As a final step, you now have a chance to test your knowledge.


1. How many Global Goals are there in the 2030 Agenda?
2. How many countries in the world drafted and adopted the 2030 Agenda?
All 193 United Nations member countries
3. Which actors should be involved in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda?
Governments, the private sector, civil society and the UN system
Politicians, business leaders and higher education institutions
Individuals, elected officials and MPs
4. At what levels is work towards the 2030 Agenda followed up?
Municipal, regional and national level
Private, public and national level
International, national and local level
5. What are the four components of the 2030 Agenda?
The political declaration, 17 Global Goals & 169 targets, funds, implementation
The political declaration, 17 Global Goals & 169 targets, funds, follow-up & evaluation
Increased knowledge, 17 Global Goals & 169 targets, funds, follow-up & evaluation
6. Which option is not one of the goals in the 2030 Agenda?
Ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being of people of all ages
Reduce the capacity for implementation of the Global Goals in developing countries
Achieve equality and the empowerment of all women and girls
7. What are highlighted as the main and largest challenges in the world at present (despite COVID-19)?
Eliminating extreme poverty, fostering sustainable consumption and production, and managing the planet’s natural resource base for the benefit of all.
Eliminating extreme poverty, stop armed conflicts, and managing the planet’s natural resource base for the benefit of all.
Eliminating extreme poverty, reduce gender inequality, and managing the planet’s natural resource base for the benefit of all.
8. Which actor has the ultimate responsibility to implement the 2030 Agenda?
Government agencies
The Government
9. The agenda has been described as:
The global community’s current definition of what sustainable development means
The global community’s future definition of what sustainable development means
The global community’s past definition of what sustainable development means
10. Which conditions are highlighted as particularly important for achieving the Global Goals?
Increased collaboration and innovative working methods
Working in silos and treating the Agenda as an individual project
Focus on the individual activities and my agency's area of expertise
Show my result

4/4 - Final words

This is the decade of action

Thank you for taking the time to go through this training. We hope you enjoyed it and that it will come to good use.

Further reading

We hope that you now have a better grasp of the 2030 Agenda and what it means for you. You can learn more about the 2030 Agenda for more inspiration. Below, we have collected links to the websites of various authorities and organizations, as well as documents about the Agenda that we think may be of interest to you. Good luck!





This training on the Sustainable Development Goals has been adapted from the The Swedish Statistics Bureau “Agenda 2030 training for Swedish Government Employees” to reach an international audience by ICLD.